U.S. Senators Blast Tesla’s Safety Review; Request Complete Breakdown of Complaints Received Since 2012

By B.N. Frank

Tesla vehicles have been associated with

This being the case, lawsuits have been filed by Tesla investors as well as owners (see 1, 2).  Now U.S. senators are demanding answers about some of the company’s controversial business practices.  Better late than never, right?

From Ars Technica:

US senators call Tesla’s safety review a “sham,” demand answers from Musk

Senators accuse Tesla of hiding “untold number” of complaints.

Ashley Belanger – 5/8/2023, 5:34 PM

US senators sent a letter Monday to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, saying they were “incredibly troubled” by reports that Tesla uses arbitration clauses in consumer and employee contracts to evade public accountability for rampant workplace discrimination and shocking vehicle safety flaws.

“We are deeply concerned that the arbitration agreements you impose on your workers and consumers have kept these reportedly deplorable and discriminatory conditions and potential safety flaws from the public eye and limited regulatory authorities’ ability to protect Tesla customers and employees and hold Tesla publicly accountable,” the lawmakers wrote.

Their letter starts by describing reports of allegedly racist and sexist worker conditions. Black Tesla employees, the senators say, are confronted by racial slurs “as often as 50 to 100 times” daily and are reportedly racially segregated by Tesla management to work only in “the lowest-level and most physically demanding roles.” Black workers also reported facing retaliation, on top of allegedly “being disproportionately disciplined and demoted.” Meanwhile, female Tesla employees are “allegedly groped” and reportedly have been fired after complaining about harassment.

“Tesla’s confidential arbitration agreements—which appear to be mandatory for workers—significantly limit the extent to which the details of discriminatory conditions at the company may come to light,” the senators wrote. They claimed that because of the agreements, there is likely an “untold number of other complaints that remain confidential.”

From there, the letter describes how Tesla’s consumer arbitration agreements have built “a black box around any concerns drivers may have on the safety of Tesla’s vehicles.”

Senators said that while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has documented some of the safety issues with Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta software that “increase the vehicle’s crash risk,” there has been no light “shed on what private settlements Tesla may have made over the safety of its cars.” They also criticized Musk’s prior claims that “comprehensive safety validation review and rigorous internal development process” help “make certain that our technologies are safe.”

“Let us be clear: your so-called safety review is a sham,” the senators wrote.

Tesla did not immediately respond to Ars’ request to comment.

Signatories of the letter include Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Senators have asked Musk to respond by June 8 to a series of questions. They essentially want Musk to fill the gaps in public knowledge and detail Tesla’s history of independently arbitrating complaints outside the public eye. That means they want to know how many worker complaints of racial harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment Tesla has received in the past decade—and how much Tesla paid out and settled. They also asked for a complete breakdown of vehicle safety complaints that Tesla received since 2012. Perhaps most importantly, they ended by asking Tesla to commit to no longer “including arbitration clauses in employee and consumer contracts” or “filing motions to compel arbitration for new claims against it in court.”

Until Musk responds, the senators warn that “the public—including would-be buyers—have no visibility into what complaints may have already been made and what other potential safety issues with Tesla vehicles may exist.”


Activist Post reports regularly about Tesla and unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives.

Image: Pixabay

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